San Miguel de Allende – A peak inside

 

Johanne and I are always curious as to what lies just beyond the many intriguing doors of the great colonial cities we visit.

DSCN1520

The historical district of San Miguel de Allende, with it’s estimated 2,000 doors, offers us daily glimpses into what lies beyond. The city has lots of fine examples of Baroque colonial architecture, many of which have been restored to their former state. 

DSCN1560

 

Of course the original purpose of the door was to keep the elements, both natural and human, on the other side. As time progressed and wealthy families moved in, the size the doors grew and detail became more elaborate.

 

DSCN1481

Handcrafted ironwork and hewn wood were often used for doors and elaborate stone work formed the entrance. Additional ornamentation declared the social status of the occupants.

DSCN1548

The fine detail on the brass knocks and hardware is marvelous.

DSCN1571

 

 

The courtyards beyond the entries lend themselves nicely to modern uses. Enchanting restaurants, romantic hotels and galleries can be discovered with a closer look.

DSCN1524

We have learned to politely ask:” Podemos mirar, por favor?” We are always welcomed to have a look around.

DSCN1555

 

Just beyond the door would be an alcove where home owners would greet  visitors. Of course, first impressions would be critical. Entry ways were grand and would feature ornate light fixtures and furniture.

DSCN1544

 

For us, it is the courtyard that is especially intriguing; the inner sanctuary where daily life would be played out.

You never know what is just beyond on a door.

DSCN1521

Doors come in all shapes and sizes.

This one uses a bicycle chain ring for a knocker:DSCN1547

Of-course not every door has been lovingly cared for and there are always a project for those interested in a restoration !!

DSCN1554

San Miguel de Allende is definitely worth a visit. Be certain to bring your camera and take a peek just beyond the door.

DSCN1545

joyful travellers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tepoztlan, MX – Daily Goose Bumps

The joyful travellers have put their bags down in the charming pueblo of Tepoztlan one hour south of Mexico City.

Tepoz2

We are experiencing daily “Goose Bump Moments” as we wander through this charming community.

 

DSCN0760

life-sized mural made of seeds and grains

Because of it’s natural beauty, cultural riches, and historical relevance, Tepoztlna has been deemed a “Pueblo Magico” by the Mexican Government.

 

The surrounding mountains are rich with Quartz deposits and many of the 14,000 inhabitants believe that the area holds special healing powers.It is a mecca for “New Agers” that come to bask in the valleys healing energies; maybe they are onto something.

 

 

Certainly the blue bird sky, the mountain air and high elevation have a serene  and calming effect. The pace is very tranquillo.

DSCN0991

 

The area was first populated by the Aztecs 1,200 years ago and several indigenous traditions still exist today.  Nachuatl, the native language of Montezuma, is still taught in the schools.

 

There is an abundance of veggie options for us at dozens of restaurants in town. But it is the open market in el centro that really brings on those goose bumps. It is like a sprawling health food store where we find: an amazing assortment of organic fruits and veggies, cheeses, grains and nuts, spices and other wonderful delights.

DSCN0788

The Aztecs were also aware of the health effects of chia and cacao which is cheap and abundant (see recipe below).

DSCN0956

 

 

Doug is particularly thrilled with the vendors plying huge sacks of fresh delicious peanuts in the shell -more goosebumps.

 

But mostly Tepoztlan is the sort of place where each venture into  town or into the hills bring on a new and wondrous discovery.

DSCN0900

Buses to and from Mexico City’s Taxquena Terminal are plentiful and comfortable.

 

Johanne’s Mother’s Magic Chia Recipe

This marvelous super food pudding can be eaten as is or combined with your favourite berries.

  • 1/3 cup Chia seeds
  • 2 cups of Almond Milk
  • 2 TBS of agave or maple syrup (to taste)
  • splash of natural vanilla extract

Mix well and refrigerate over night. May require occasional stirring.

DSCN0985

joyful travellers

The Tranquility That is Bocas del Toro

There is so much to be said about Bocas – our time here has been remarkable, magical and memorable!!

DSCN0573

What seems to be most striking is the quiet that predominates our days. It is not quiet as in no sound,  the jungle is alive with birds, monkeys, frogs and more. It is a tranquility which has it’s own sound – more than just quiet. The pervasive silence sets the backdrop that allows the natural world to be truly heard. We hear with different ears, we see with new eyes and we smell with new noses. It is an awareness, an awe.

The morning after a rain, the aroma of jasmine is absolutely lush. It is as if standing  wrapped in the fragrance. Every time you look up there is something remarkable you hadn’t noticed the last time you looked. Did those brilliant red flowers just bloom, how could I have not seen them before?

DSCN0264

 

We are certainly very spoiled as the property that we are caring for is a botanical wonder. It was carved out of a jungle hillside overlooking a Caribbean Bay. Toucans, parrots, monkeys, sloths, green frogs, red frogs and dolphins are all regular guests.  The jungle supplies us with fresh oranges for juice, lemons the size of softballs, four different varieties of bananas and pure organic cacao. (We are learning the value of cacao nibs as a super food).

DSCN0475

 

Maybe some photos will help to illustrate what I can not seem to put into words. There are only so many adjectives for incredible.

DSCN0242

 

DSCN0539

 

 

 

 

 

DSCN0583

DSCN0309

 

 

 

 

DSCN0239

 

 

There are tiny communities scattered around this intricate archipelago. The inhabitants are here for each other when needed, yet forever at a distance. Visiting requires a boat trip and it is always WP (weather permitting). It is an intriguing mix of expats that are drawn to this lifestyle. They reside beside the natives that have made this region home for generations.

There is a definite spirit to the place!

The sense of being off the grid is very profound, we are  a long ways from any grid out here! This isn’t like going to the cottage for the weekend.

DSCN0622

We are so absolutely fortunate because we are spending 6 weeks on a property that is the jewel of the area.

Check out their website to learn how organic cacao is produced:

Green Acres Chocolate Farm

DSCN0509

joyful travellers

 

 

 

 

Discovering Quintana Roo, Mexico

Although I have been in Mexico more than a dozen times I always find pleasant new surprises. It is a country so rich in history and interesting geography.

Currently we are vising Quintana Roo, the state that forms the eastern part of the Yucatan peninsula.

DSC04003

Chetumal

According to the guide books Chetumal was suppose to  be a place that was not worth visiting however Johanne and I found it to be most enjoyable. It is very safe and largely overlooked by the Cancun crowd.

DSC04002

Clean and quiet a wonderful malacon stretching for miles along the Caribbean shore.

DSC04021

How can you not love a place that  has a statue of Bob Marley?

DSC04025

Bacalar, Pueblo Magico is our next stop, a small town perched on an stunning fresh water laguna.

DSC04031

The laguna is 42 KMs long and fed from  below by two deep water cenotes.

DSC04027

Bacalar is rich with history from the days when pirates lurked in the mangroves raiding the Spanish settlements.

The Spanish built a fort here in the 1700’s which was later captured and held by Mayan rebels in the Caste Wars.

 

DSC04016

DSC04049

 

Great food and affordable accommodation are abundant.

 

 

 

 

Cenote swimming

 

We are very pleased that we took time to visit this often ignored corner of the peninsula.

DSC04088

joyful travellers

Uxmal – Mayan Magic

DSC03796

Gazing out over what remains of a once great civilization, so many questions arise.

DSC03789

Pyramid of the Soothsayer

Many of the answers remain a mystery today particularly what transpired to cause such a rapid and dramatic decline to this once powerful civilization?

DSC03753

 

DSC03793

 

 

 

 

 

Founded  around 700 AD the  Mayan center of Uxmal was the home of  approx. 25,000 people. It is said to be the most majestic of all the Mayan  cities. There is much Mayan mythology about the city once being ruled by Dwarfs.

I found it interesting that this center was built where there was no cenote for water as is the case with other site.

 

DSC03812

Getting up is the easy part.

We were extremely impressed at how well preserved and presented this UNESCO  location is and  our 3 hour walk about was very enlightening.

More Information

 

Getting There:

Uxmal is 65 KMS south of Merida and there are many tours offered stopping here and the other sites on the Puuc Trail.

Johanne and I chose to take the local bus from downtown Merida- it takes about 1.5 hrs. and was  just a few dollars one way. There is also a local bus tour on Sundays

There is also very comfortable  accommodations and restaurants just as you enter the site. Maybe stay a few days and experience this area by moonlight.

 

Make sure you put the ruins at Uxmal on you “Must Do List”.

joyful travellers

Merida, Yucatan, Mx.

Johanne and I have found this to be a very safe and comfortable city offering many enchanting plazas and parks. Strolling the tree lined streets we discover a variety of interesting nooks and crannies.

merida5

Street Performance
Street Performance

There is free nightly entertainment at various locations in the historical district where you can experience a real local flavour.

Every  Sunday they close off much of the old city around the Plaza Grande so that families can ride bicycles together.

Artists and musicians add to the relaxed atmosphere and there is great street food to experience.

merida6

It is a city steeped with culture and tradition, plus it offers a high quality of life to its residents and guests. We are always greeted with warm and welcoming smiles.

The city is also an ideal starting point for visiting the pristine beaches

dsc02339-copyalong the Gulf of Mexico as well as the numerous nearby Mayan sites such as:

Uxmal.

“We can highly recommend Merida as a place to visit and enjoy”.

Hint: (It is very HOT in September)!!

merida3a

the joyful travellers

Resource: The Yucatan Today is the best Travel Companion magazine we have seen. Great maps and current events.

La Vida en la Ometepe, Nicaragua

As house sitters we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a variety of local environments.

I have heard the term “slow travel” used, it offers a “feel” for the place that a few nights in a hotel does not.

Currently we are on Ometepe Island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. We have tried to capture what everyday life looks like in photos:

dsc03139Living in the shadow of 2 volcanoes accentuates the temporal aspect of life.

dsc03149

Ruta De Evacuation

dsc03082

 Well at least you will have time to enjoy the shade:

dsc03148

****

dsc03197

Wash Day

****

dsc03247

dsc03196-2

Puppies Always Bring on a Smile

****

dsc03186

Mystical Surroundings

dsc03061Enjoy Every Moment

dsc03141

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact us if we can House/Pet Sit for you.

the joyful travellers